Alio Restaurant and Dégustation Dinner Prize

The card in the mail is a welcome surprise. Mr G has won a runners’ up prize in the Eat Free for a Year draw run by Alio Restaurant, a competition he entered at the Sydney Food and Wine Fair back in October.

Alio Restaurant Surry Hills

Alio Restaurant is located at the Redfern end of Surry Hills, just away from the main drag of Cleveland and Crown Streets. Inside the vast dining room with a bar area, the décor is modern and minimalist, with dark timber chairs, high back cushioned banquettes and dark brown carpet. Dim lighting with flickering candles on paper covered tablecloths remind you that you are in for intimate yet relaxed dining.

Alio Restaurant Surry Hills
Alio Degustation Menu with matching wines

The prize consists of free matching wines for up to 4 people when you order the 10 course degustation menu by Chef Ashley Hughes. We took the opportunity to invite good friends along to share in the prize. Mr G had previously won another dégustation menu at Restaurant Balzac in Randwick.

Alio Restaurant Surry Hills
Alio hand made grissini, herb bread and olive oil, and 40 month old Reggiano Parmigiano

The dégustation begins with hand made grissini, herb bread and olive oil, and chunks of 40 month old Reggiano Parmigiano. This is accompanied by mixed marinated organic olives, served warm, with chilli, roast garlic and a hint of rosemary.

Alio Restaurant Surry Hills
Mixed marinated organic olives

Alio Restaurant Surry Hills
Lentil soup

Next, is the Lentil soup starter –  creamy, homely and comforting. This is paired with a slightly sweet Nino Franco, Rustico Prosecco from Valdobbiadene in Italy.

Alio Restaurant Surry Hills
Prosciutto San Daniele with melon and rocket

The staple of antipasti, the Prosciutto San Daniele with melon and rocket is paired with Star Bay Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough in New Zealand which complements the sweetness of the melon.

Alio Restaurant Surry Hills
Citrus cured kingfish with radish and orange dressing paired with La Zona Savagnin, King Valley,Vic

The next dish is light and summery. The citrus cured kingfish is sliced thinly and served with radish and orange dressing.  The bitterness of the radish is coupled with the citrus tang and paired with La Zona Savagnin, King Valley in Victoria.

Alio Restaurant Surry Hills
Panfried scallops wrapped in pancetta with spinach and a bagna cauda dressing paired with Vino Bianco Della Casa, Cheshunt, Victoria, Australia

After a significant wait, the panfried scallops wrapped in pancetta with spinach and a bagna cauda dressing are served. The scallops are plump and but their flavour is a little dull on their own. The sauce has a hint of garlic which gives this dish a lift. This course is paired with Vino Bianco Della Casa, Cheshunt, Victoria, Australia.

Alio Restaurant Surry Hills
Potato gnocchi with garlic prawns and cherry tomato with Juniper Crossing Tempranillo, Margaret River WA

The seafood aroma from the potato gnocchi with garlic prawns and cherry tomato seduces the senses. The gnocchi are soft and pillowy, the bisque-like sauce is rich and flavoursome. Paired with a Juniper Crossing Tempranillo, Margaret River from Western Australia, This is by far the favourite dish, my only comment is that I would have liked an encore.

Alio Restaurant Surry Hills
Roasted lamb rack with marinated beetroot and dragoncello salsa with The Musician Cabernet. Shiraz, Coonawarra SA

At first glance, the roasted lamb rack with marinated beetroot and dragoncello salsa looks a little too pink and for my liking. I have an aversion to eating bloody meat but decide to be adventurous. The lamb is very tender and the reduction with hints of star anise has all of us voting this dish as our favourite.

The spicy notes of the Musician Cabernet Shiraz from South Australia’s Coonawarra are a good complement to this star dish.

Alio Restaurant Surry Hills
Coconut and lime sorbet, paired with Beni Di Batasiolo Moscato, D’Asti, Piedmonte, Italy

The palate cleanser is a silky smooth Coconut and lime sorbet, light and refreshing and surprisingly not too sweet. This is well paired with Beni Di Batasiolo Moscato D’Asti from Piedmonte in Italy which has a nice fizz on the tongue.

Alio Restaurant Surry Hills
Poached peach with champagne granita paired with Pirramimma Late Harvest Riesling, McLaren Vale SA

The Poached peach with champagne granita is an elegant dessert to finish on, paired with the lingering sweetness of the Pirramimma Late Harvest Riesling from McLaren Vale in South Australia.

Alio Restaurant Surry Hills

The dégustation offers good value at $85, ($120 with matching wines). The portions are reasonably sized; the dishes are flavoursome and well paired with wines from Australia, Italy and New Zealand. The noise levels in the dining room are acceptable, no doubt aided by the carpet and cushioned banquettes.

Alio Restaurant Surry Hills

While the dishes and wine pairings worked well together, the dégustation itself wasn’t well paced. Some dishes were served too quickly while our wine glasses from the previous course were still half full. Others, like the scallop course arrived a good 20 minutes later.

Service was limited to serving and clearing plates with no introduction to the dishes or the wines. The two waitstaff serving our table were not engaging and they were both uninformed about the dishes when we queried the ingredients of the bagna cauda. It may have been an off night with new staff but I expect a dégustation to include more than just good food and wine pairings. A side serving of interaction and enthusiasm would have made it a more memorable experience.

Overall, it was an enjoyable evening in modern surrounds with a relaxed ambiance. Next time, I would be keen to try individual dishes from the menu such as the Pappardelle with braised duck and chestnuts.

Alio Restaurant
5 Baptist Street
Redfern 2016
Sydney
www.alio.com.au

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Alio Restaurant and Dégustation Dinner Prize was last modified: December 20th, 2015 by Corinne Mossati

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Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is the Founder/Editor of popular online magazine Gourmantic and Cocktails & Bars, a website dedicated to cocktail culture and the discerning drinker. She is named in Australian Bartender Magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential List, is a member of The Academy responsible for judging the World’s 50 Best Bars. She has also judged the inaugural Australasian Whisky Awards and various national cocktail competitions.

9 Comments:

  1. I don’t eat much meat, so that lamb would be tough for me too, but everything else made me very hungry!

    • The lamb was definitely worth the try as is, even for the squeamish. Not that I’ll order rare meat from now on but this was most enjoyable the way it was served :)

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  3. Looks absolutely scrumptious! Way to go Mr G! :)

  4. a friend of mine won the same matching wine deal for 4 people so i had the same dishes. food was very good and our service was friendly. hope to blog about it soon :-)

    • I’m glad you had better service that we did. I’ve never had a degustation menu where the waitstaff didn’t introduce the dishes and wines – and we’ve been to quite a few over the years.

      Another coincidence Simon :) and lucky for you that your friend took you along!

  5. The pinkness of that lamb is ace, but a shame about the lax service.

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